• claire

    Wow, that’s got my brain firing. The trouble I have is that, as a nutritionist, I feel way to broad, so I’ve narrowed it down to parents who want to be fit and healthy enough to be able to ride when they get the chance, but aside from that, I can’t see any metaphors at all. It might be because even though what I do can be life changing, people are reluctant to go for something that involves changing their life, so I just want it to sound much smaller, but also useful. – something like being ready to ride the waves – but that just sounds pap! Looking forward to reading all the other metaphors so my brain can start filtering and sorting!!

    Thank you!

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    keep sitting with it. and remember – the metaphor is primarily about them and their experience more than our business. start with them and then ask how you fit into that symbolism.

  • claire

    Hmmmm, thank you! I think I am trying to force an answer, rather than letting one just come to me. It is about those who I want to help, and I am just an impatient soul, which is silly because my impatience is exactly what is causing me to have to wait so long for results!!Thanks for such a thoughtful post, and reply!

  • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.swanson1 Barbara Swanson

    I use metaphors all the time, as a way to turn abstract concepts and confusing facts into a story that anyone can follow.
    One of my favorite metaphors to describe how too much stress acts upon your brain function:
    You are driving down a city street and come up to a yellow light
    A firetruck with its lights on comes up on your left
    An ambulance with it sirens on comes up on your right
    A cop car with lights and sirens comes up behind you
    Your cell phone rings
    The baby in the backseat begins to wail
    What happens?
    You wreck.
    This is your brain with stress, when you have no nutritional reserves!

  • http://www.facebook.com/schuyler.kaye.7 Schuyler Kaye

    Tad this is a great article. One of the things I love most about your teachings is how most things fit into your metaphor about the islands… it makes it so much easier to 1. remember it. 2. talk about it. and 3. probably most important – understand the purpose of it.

    I struggled for a bit with a metaphor for helping small business owners who want to make a difference and need to attract more customers through their online presence I started down a number of paths… but felt like it wasn’t as all encompassing as yours with the islands etc.

    What helped was finding a metaphor that described the difference between the solutions they’ve tried that didn’t work and the ones I was offering (from a high level). For me that was about finding their compass. Once I nailed that one down the rest came into place… the struggle of wondring a wilderness looking, not relying on other people’s maps, finding your compass, building your fire, growing your village… it just kept growing. New ideas just kind of fell into it. Not sure it’s the end all metaphor, but I’m really enjoying it – and it seems my customers are resonating with it.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!


  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    very powerful metaphor.

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    what a metaphor! i love it. what’s your website in case people resonate with it. have you written it out in full anywhere for people to read?

  • http://twitter.com/organicjack Jack Stephens

    Tad, I really enjoyed this article. Like Schuyler, I appreciate your metaphor about the islands and it certainly fits in my work, but it doesn’t feel unique to me. I’m glad you’ve shared so many other possibilities to spark inspiration and connect to a metaphor that fits me better. Lately I’ve been telling potential clients that I can help them get off the treadmill and blaze a trail. That seemed to work better for me, but it’s not quite there.

    In my book Soul Self I use the metaphor of a horse and rider to represent the ego-mind and Soul. When the rider (Soul) is in charge and the ego cooperates, the ride can be truly enjoyable (we designed it that way!) But if the horse (ego) takes over we can end up over the fence, dragged through the mud and not where we truly want to be.

    I recognized the usefulness of the metaphor in describing the Soul/ego-mind relationship, but I hadn’t thought to extend it to how I describe my own work until reading your post. Now I get that as a Soul purpose coach I help clients learn how to listen within, trust their intuition and get back in the saddle.

    Thanks again!


  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    jack. that’s such a great metaphor! i bet people could totally relate to that experience of being dragged through the mud by their ego. i love the idea of you using it to describe your work to people.

  • http://greenandprofitable.com Shel Horowitz-Green Marketer

    Nicely done, Tad. But I’ll take issue with one statement: “A metaphor is of a real, physical thing in the outer world that people can relate to. A metaphor is NOT a feeling, sensation or concept.” Some of the most visceral metaphors on your clients’ list are not tangible things.

    In my own business, I’ve been using the phrase, “Making Green Sexy.” Green-as-sexy is a concept based in metaphor–the idea that, for example, making toilet paper from recycled stock is sexy.

  • catzavis

    Thanks Tad for the plug! I love your marketing messages!

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    thank you!

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    interesting! i’ve not thought of metaphors in that way. always expanding my mind Shel :-)

  • http://www.ThriveWithAutism.ca/ Jackie McMillan

    I’m an autism tour guide, who helps people get out of the fog and start thriving. Now that I’ve heard the “trail guide”, though, I want that instead (thank you, whoever you are)! I can’t survive without metaphor. Almost no-one knows the science behind the emerging and hopeful model of autism, because almost all of the available information is based on the outdated and depressing model. I can’t give people the Ph.D. they need to get changes within a reasonable time, so I dive into Cole’s Notes versions in the hopes that the pictures will be worth the thousand words.

    E.g. It just seems so awfully obnoxious, bringing my own food when people are going to the trouble of not only cooking a meal for me, but really trying to figure out how to support my tricky digestive system. It feels like I’m slapping their faces, saying “I can’t trust you, and won’t even try”.

    E.g. Grains are complex carbohydrates, and when they reach my microbe-deficient gut, the only critters which can break the bonds between the chained-up sugars are yeasts, funghi, and some of the least-desirable bacteria around. Why is this a problem, you ask? Well, these critters are sub-optimal because of the waste products they create, the earliest of which can be mildly euphoric (for example, yeast + sugar = alcohol). This numbing glow is over within a few hours, which is when I start to be able to feel the formerly-camouflaged impacts of their rampaging reproduction, graffiti-fest, and wanton destruction. The worst of it is that they knock the tops off of all the villi, the teeny folds in my gut lining where, in an ideal world, the healthy bacteria would hang out. This feels a bit like being shaved with a razor that’s not sharp enough, so it leaves the skin raw and scraped — which is how the entire length of my gut feels, this morning.

    E.g. It was quite the parade out of the restaurant, as my limbs became increasingly rubbery, and my sensory system began to distort and delay information coming in, and information going out.

    E.g. my colleague managed to get some emergency homeopathics out of my security blanket (the knapsack I take with me everywhere)

  • Leda Sammarco

    Great post, Tad. For me the power of metaphor is that they can evoke both the tangible and intangible and really tap into our feelings in a powerful way. They are also fun and creative and provide a window into our personality, which is another way for a potential client to see if we are a good fit for them or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/schuyler.kaye.7 Schuyler Kaye

    Thanks Tad!

    My website is http://www.t4execs.com and I do use the metaphor on my “how it works” page. The trouble with metaphors… is that when you really resonate with one (like I did with the compass) it makes you want to change your whole business. I am in the process of figuring out how to transition to purposecompass.org. It just feels like a name I could get behind and for the rest of my life and my businesses life regardless of how we grow together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527691890 David Jan Jurasek

    Wow! My favorite blog of yours. ever. And I love your blog, Tad. As soon as I read it I went reeling into metaphor land and have had a hard time finding my way back to the linear and boring descriptions I have previously used! Off to re-write everything I am posting… : ) One example… is exploring my healing work as heart surgery… but fearless guide of the emotional wilderness is more apt. Medical school wasn’t for me, nor was the cutting and pasting mechanics of it… Being an explorer of the heart and a guide through the inner terrain! YES! But, I will sit with both metaphors, because as you mentioned, there is so much there to explore and discover. Thanks for sharing your brilliance!

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    well said! i hadn’t thought about them as an expression of our personality so much.

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    love it!

  • http://www.uniquegifter.com/ Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Ah, thanks. I haven’t read Invisible Knapsack in a few years. The metaphors really do get the message across easily and effectively. The list was fun. I really liked the ant in honey and the battleground to playground ones.

  • http://marketingforhippies.com Tad Hargrave

    glad you liked it :-)

  • Cindy Thompson

    Thanks so much for sharing this Tad! The timing is perfect as I’ve attempted to explain what I do for years and am still looking for a clear way to convey this. I now have a much larger playground to explore as I sort through it all with rebranding my healing practice and really coming out into the world. Much love to you for the wonderful work that you do!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tad.hargrave Tad Hargrave

    so glad this was useful for you!

  • Briana_Barrett

    awesome topic, loved first 1/4 & have to go, and will share:

    I love my friend Joe’s business, Enteleos, for its integral message:
    “Our future lies within”

    It’s a way of drawing out clients’ crystal clear feelings & beliefs, without positioning ourselves as the expert on them. A tad off-topic, but a resource many will love.


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